Horses & horse racing
Uncover a county with an unforgettable equestrian flavor and sample some of the events that make Ireland a unique place for unbridled fun…
Horses and Horse Racing
What’s all this about horse racing festivals?
Ireland kicks into life from Easter right through to December with racing festivals that enjoy a uniquely Irish flavor. The season is packed with thrilling events like the Irish National Hunt Festival at Punchestown in County Kildare; the Irish Derby Festival at the Curragh; the Galway Races Summer Meeting Festival; the Leopardstown Christmas Racing Festival in Dublin; the Guinness Christmas Festival at Limerick Racecourse; and the Easter Irish Grand National Festival at Fairyhouse Racecourse.
So what can I expect?
Exceptional racing, colorful characters, high style, an unforgettable atmosphere and some of the most picturesque settings in the world – the Killarney four-day Festival in Springtime is particularly renowned for its scenery as the course is beautifully placed between the town and the shimmering Killarney lakes.
Is there a particular region that’s known for equestrian excellence?
County Kildare is commonly known as Thoroughbred County. The Curragh, Punchestown and Naas racecourses are all located here, but the County is most famous for the quality of its horses, which are bred in numerous stud farms and trained in top centers. The most famous, of course, is the Irish National Stud, which boasts a wonderful Horse Museum as well as the wild natural beauty of St Fiachra’s Gardens and the widely acclaimed Japanese Gardens.
What about horse shows?
The Fáilte Ireland Dublin Horse Show is an institution, a highlight of the Republic’s capital city’s cultural calendar, with top show horses and the best international show jumpers. This is one of the world’s best equestrian events, but even if you’re not a horsey type there’s still plenty to enjoy with great shopping, eating and music. Meanwhile, The Belfast International Horse Show is a fantastic family event attracting world champions, Olympic champions and World Cup winners to the hip Northern Irish capital.
Ireland is famed for hosting international Point-to-Point events in a number of stunning locations around the country. The circuit of events has been a source of many champions over the years and is definitely the type of event to watch if you’re looking for the Grand National winners of the future!